A Bit of Flash Fiction
copyright 2015 © by Linda Nelson
Jogging down the path hardly traveled, I expected an attacker to jump out of the bushes at any minute. I could have brought the dog with me, but then I would have to stop every fifteen feet for him to pee on a tree. A can of mace would have to do.
The attacker never showed their face. Instead, it was a dirty old envelope that stopped me in my tracks. I could have continued on, ignoring it as trash. Instead, I picked it up and noted the address and date it had been mailed. It had a piece of folded paper inside. My curiosity got the better of me and began to read, tears welled in my eyes by the end of the love letter that was dated December 1932.
A photo had been within the fold of the paper of a man in an army uniform. I had seen that face before, I’m sure of it, even though he was much younger then. He was a man I knew that lived in a retirement community not too far away. The woman, I wasn’t so sure about. I wondered what the chances were that she could still be alive today.
I followed up with a search on the internet. One of those paid searches led me right to her. Fate would have it, she lived in the same community, and chances were that they probably didn’t know that either still existed. The only way to find out would be to deliver that letter to the woman the next day.
She hugged me like a rag doll and blessed my little ole heart. I wasn’t sure if the tears I was feeling on my face were from the joy I saw in her eyes, or of her squeezing of my ribs in that bear hug of hers. She thought he had died in the war.
“No, No… he didn’t die,” said I. “He lives on the fourth floor.”
“Joe, on the fourth floor?” she asked. “That can’t be. I saw him yesterday and he told me his name was Howard.”
“His name is not Howard.” I laughed. “I’m sure he was asking you how are’ d you? He’s always had a lisp since I’ve known him.”
“A lisp?” she asked.
“He told me he’s had trouble with his tongue ever since the war. He had been in a prison camp before the war ended.”
She agreed to go with me to visit him. He opened the door with a blank look on his face. I had neglected to tell her that Alzheimer’s had begun to take his memories away from him. He could no longer remember his wife’s name nor his daughter’s.
“Joe, I brought an old friend of yours to visit.”
He smiled and invited us in. Pictures of family decorated his walls, but he no longer knew the names that went with the faces. He still remembered his days in the army. That was probably a memory that would never be taken away from him. The bad ones always are the last to go.
While he shuffled about his little kitchenette making cups of tea, my guest began to study the photos on the wall. She stopped beside the one of him that was taken when he entered the army just before going off to war and drew out the photo she had in her pocket and held it up to compare the two. They were the same.
I don’t know if it was the dress she wore or her hair. Something sparked inside him. “Margaret? Is that you?” The teacup began to shake in his hand.
“Daddy, do you remember her?”
He rushed toward her and pulled her into his arms, as though he were just a young lad once again. I was a forgotten memory. It was the first time I had seen him happy in years. The reunion, eighty-three years overdue.